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Nick Stahl Beau Garrett

Nick Stahl

Beau Garrett

Alona Tal Jonathan Jackson

Alona Tal

Jonathan Jackson

"Kalamity" | a film review by Gary Chew

GARY CHEW/Sacramento

I was wondering if the person who came up with "Kalamity" for a movie title had ever seen "Kalifornia," with Brad Pitt and David Duchovny. It seemed that with such spelling, "Kalamity" would likely be an edgy, violent film, as well, with disconsolate people trapped in the crap that life, now and then, drops on us.

Little did I know that "Kalamity" would present itself as (believe it or not) a major stream-of-consciousness motion picture with a minor in death-obsession. That gave me pause, for a moment, to consider if the screenwriter, James Hausler (who also directed), had read "Ulysses, or been influenced by other works of James Joyce.

I certainly knew that "Kalifornia," with Brad and "Fox Mulder, himself," didn't have that kind of a writer's pedigree, but, "heck," I thought to myself: "this 'Kalamity' picture might work out to be one helluva movie." Plus, I noticed that Nick Stahl had the lead in it, and recalled Mr. Stahl doing good work in HBO's "Carnivále," and, of course, Terrence Malick's "The Thin Red Line," not to mention Nick's excellent turn as a small town physician's son dispatched by an angry, cuckold husband in 2001's "In the Bedroom."

Stahl plays Billy, just back in town to his nice little sister's and parents' place. Jonathan Jackson (seen in "Tuck Everlasting," and "Insomnia."), is Stanley, Billy's bud. Stanley is getting a "little off his frequency, Kenneth." Something's bugging him in a totally intense way. Meanwhile, Billy is strapped due to his breakup with Alice (Beau Garrett) and Stan the Man is so totally up tight with anyone even saying Ashley's name out loud... Stanley and Ashley (Alona Tal) being a "thing," too.

Robert Forster

Robert Forster

As Robert Forster is cast as Billy's father in "Kalamity"---and you know everyone has to see what Mr. Forster's up to in any role he might take, i.e., "Mulholland Drive" and so many others---I put it all together: A "K" in place of a "C," for the film title; a stream-of -consciousness narrative; James Joyce; Nick Stahl. Wow, fasten your freakin' David Lynch seat belt, Gary.

Nothin' doin'. Here, Forster is, what I call, "the 'trombone' in a 'Peanuts' animation": the parent condescended to by his hip and bothered son looking at dad, thinking, "Will my old man ever get it?"

Many young actors today (some of them good ones) emote way more mature than their age shows them in the situations their characters find themselves. The exudation of 'cool' is what's really cool to see, especially for younger demographics. Seems real, but it ain't.

Furthermore, Mr. Forster is on screen for a grand total of about three minutes (in two scenes), speaking stuff totally out-of-sync with the real haps of the movie. Which I hasten to add is, in no way, a stream of anybody's consciousness. My bad.

As "Kalamity" moves closer to conclusion, I suddenly realized that the abrupt segues from one intense, brooding, heavily-acted scene to the next are merely changes in a vague display of time shifts, forward and back, that relate to, mostly, uneventful, but very trying and (for some reason) always-played-as gripping moments in two opaquely defined relationships: Billy and Alice's... and Stanley and Ashley's... and then, there's the dissing of a tertiary character named Matt, played by Tyler Parkinson. Matt is, I guess you could say, Stanley's doormat.

"Kalamity" has some interesting faces in it, and there might be more to see of some of them, ahead. I know it was good to see Stahl's again. He's a fine talent. A better script next time, maybe.

The lesson, here, to "borrow" a phrase, or title, not too unlike one Bo Diddley would lay on you, is: "Don't judge a flick by looking to see if they substitute some of the letters in the title for others."

I'm thinkin' maybe, "Kalamity" should be released into the DVD hood as "Inkoherence."

"Kalamity" official site. Now in limited release.

See Yahoo Movies-Tulsa for theaters and times.

Gary Chew can be reached at garychew@comcast.net,
Facebook.com/justin.playfair and Twitter.com/orwellingly.

Copyright © 2011, Gary Chew. All rights reserved.

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